As a parent, you know the excitement of imagining your child growing up to become a successful doctor, a movie star, or even the next president! While those are all fun things to imagine, what most parents really want is for their children to become caring, kind, and empathetic, regardless of profession.
There are several reasons why its important to raise compassionate children. Compassion is essential for a happy, secure, and connected life. It provides us with the ability to understand that people are more alike than they are different. Compassion allows us as individuals to empathize with others, putting their needs ahead of our own when necessary. Children who express compassion feel loved, valued, and respected, and they grow up to become extraordinary friends, co-workers, spouses, and parents.
Here are a few ways you can help foster kindness and compassion in your child:
Make caring for others a priority: Speak to your children about the importance of kindness and respect. Ensure that they address others respectfully, even if they’re tired, distracted, or angry. Emphasize caring when you interact with other key adults in your children’s lives, such as teachers. Inquire not only whether your child is achieving academically, but also whether he or she is a good community member at school.
Model kindness. Engaging in community service regularly, for example, would help your child understand that giving back and being kind is an important part of your lives. It’s even more valuable to include your child in the act of giving to others. Providing your child with the opportunity to not only see kindness and compassion in action but to participate as well makes a powerful impression as they get to see firsthand the positive impact their compassion makes on those they are helping.
Read and discuss stories that focus on compassion. There are many wonderful children’s books that you can share with your child, including A Chair for My Mother, The Spiffiest Giant in Town, A Sick Day for Amos McGee, and Have You Filled a Bucket Today? Children can learn by example through these heartwarming stories of compassion and caring.
Like most other admirable traits, compassion is a quality that children can learn over time and through regular practice. You can bring out the warmth in your child in simple ways such as dispensing love and a being great role model. The attribute of compassion is vitally important for our children to acquire as it leads to the development of so many other invaluable qualities, including empathy and generosity. By cultivating these qualities at a young age, your child is more likely to carry these important traits into adulthood.